Chapter 2: Defining the Audience
In This Chapter
Performing market research
Gathering information on the target audience’s computer use
Assessing a site’s competition
Understanding how to characterize a target audience
Determining benefits to site visitors
fter the planning phase of your Web project, as explained in Book I,
Chapter 1, you should have enough information to successfully move
into the contract phase, where you estimate fees for the project and then
draft and submit a proposal to the client.
When the client gives verbal approval of the proposal, you can write up an
official contract and present it to the client for signatures. If you’re in need
of a sample contract, you might want to start with the example shown at After you create your own
copy, you can modify it as needed to suit your individual projects.
At the same time as you receive the signed contract from your
client, you can also collect financial retainers or deposits
along with any content or materials needed to begin devel-
opment of the site. Try to get at least a 25 percent
deposit from the client before you do any work. This
shows good faith on your part for doing the work
and good faith on the client’s part that she is seri-
ous about having you do the work and is willing to
pay part of the fees to retain your services.
After you get the contract and deposit, you can
safely enter the design phase, which is where this
chapter begins. Identifying the target audience
(the first part of the design phase) is an information-
gathering process that helps you make a Web site’s
design effective.
In this chapter, you define your target audience by finding out every-
thing you can about the target audience members — what their computer
usage and Internet surfing habits are, where they fall demographically, what
06_417966-bk01ch02.qxp 3/25/09 10:29 PM Page 43
Defining the Target Audience
their buying preferences are, and what special interests they may have. You
also spend a little time doing your own informal market research by taking a
good look at the competition to give your Web project an extra edge.
Defining the Target Audience
The target audience for a Web site is the ideal group of visitors site owners
hope to attract in an effort to increase Web traffic and thereby improve
sales. In other words, they are the intended visitors of a Web site, as defined
by their common interests, habits, and demographics. This ideal group
might be of a certain age or gender; come from a particular part of a neigh-
borhood, city, county, state, region, or country; and have very specific inter-
ests as well as particular likes and dislikes.
To determine these and other characteristics, you and your client should
perform certain tasks, including performing a bit of informal (or formal)
market research, gathering Internet usage statistics, and taking a look at
what the competition is doing so that you can create a more attractive
design for your site and ensure that the site includes the relevant content
that the target audience is likely to seek.
Doing informal market research
Market research is a type of research performed when information about a
particular group of people needs to be gathered as an aid to making strate-
gic marketing decisions. Whether performed in a formal or informal manner,
market research is one of the best ways to begin the design phase of any
Web site project.
With your particular Web design project in mind, be sure to complete the
following three tasks, from the checklist shown in Figure 2-1, to make the
most of your market research time:
Gather general information about the computer usage and Internet
browsing habits of Internet users. This knowledge about the people
using the Internet can greatly help you make important decisions about
the site’s design measurements, organization, layout, color palette,
image usage, navigation scheme, and accessibility features.
Find out what other businesses in
the same field have already done
with their Web sites. By looking at
competitors’ Web sites, you can
quickly assess what was already
done poorly and take steps to
avoid those same mistakes. In
addition, you can find out a lot
Figure 2-1: Create your own marketing
research checklist to gather information
about your project.
06_417966-bk01ch02.qxp 3/25/09 10:29 PM Page 44

Get Web Design All-in-One for Dummies® now with O’Reilly online learning.

O’Reilly members experience live online training, plus books, videos, and digital content from 200+ publishers.